Department of Agriculture launching farmer, fisherman database program

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is launching the National Farmers and Fishermen Database (NFFD) this quarter to better identify beneficiaries of its credit programs, its top official said yesterday.

In a Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the NFFD would use information technology to store information about every farmer and fisherman in the country, including the geo-tagged location of his farm and house.

“It will also indicate what interventions he has received from government, like loans, seeds, boats, farm inputs and others, and the results of the interventions,” Piñol said.

He added the program would include the economic profile of the family at the start of the interventions, specifically poverty level, and monitor improvements after two years.

“All the information contained in the database of the NFFD will only be accessible to President Duterte, the secretary of agriculture and key officials of government and the agencies implementing interventions,” Piñol said.

Piñol said the program is expected to effectively assist the DA in targeting the real beneficiaries of its programs, especially the Easy Access Credit Program under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).

He added that it would also weed out “fake farmers” who usually take advantage of government’s assistance by presenting themselves as beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the agriculture chief said the National Food Authority (NFA) would be a direct beneficiary of the NFFD, particularly through its aggressive local palay procurement program.

“With this program, the NFA will be able to determine whether the palay delivered to its buying stations really came from the farmer or was just consolidated by traders who would like to take advantage of the higher government support price,” Piñol said.

The NFFD will also accurately record all transactions made by the farmer with the NFA and what incentives he will receive, including the recording of his loans under the Cash Advance Credit Program and the payments he has made.

Piñol earlier said the DA is planning to adopt a cash advance system for farmers to slowly liberate them from loan sharks which hinder improved rice production of the country.

He said he has directed the NFA and the ACPC to implement the cash advance credit program for rice farmers.

“In many farming areas all over the country, the absence of credit programs has pushed farmers to loan sharks and local traders who give them cash advances at atrocious interest rates and who also corner the farmers’ produce during harvest time buying it at prices they dictate,” Pinol said.

The cash advance is commonly used for buying seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs, as well as to pay for labor and other personal needs.

“This is a response to the problems raised by many rice farmers who said that they could not deliver their produce to the NFA, even if it offers a higher price, because they have borrowed money from the local traders and financiers at very high interest rates,” Piñol added.

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